With many cruisers travelling to see the magnificent cherry trees in full bloom, cruises to Japan are becoming very popular. And one of the most visited ports is the city of Yokohama, because it provides easy access to chaotic and stimulating Tokyo.
Situated just over an hour away by coach and slightly less by train, this iconic city has so much to offer that you won’t know where to begin. If, however, you are looking to stick to a budget, here are some fantastic free activities to enjoy whilst you’re in town.
See The City From On High
Tokyo is so vast and the streets are so full with vibrant activity that the only way to really get a sense of it all is to see it from above. There are many places where you can do this – the Tokyo Skytree (tallest freestanding broadcast tower in the world) being the most prominent choice. However, if you don’t want to pay the sky-high entrance fees, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building instead.
This twin-towered structure has a choice of two observation decks at 202 metres high and entry is free. If the weather is good, you could see as far as Mount Fuji but the views down to the bustling streets are just as exciting.
Sample The Culture
Japan has a varied cultural identity but there are a few things that anyone would immediately associate with the country. Luckily, there are various ways for you to get a taste of these without having to part with a single Yen. Let’s start at the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple, the ideal place for an introduction to this peaceful religion. As well as the beautiful structure itself, the surrounding pavements are full of market stalls.
Then it’s time for a small insight into the world of Sumo wrestling. You can learn about the theory and history of this sport at the Sumo Museum in the riverside neighbourhood of Ryogoku and then see the action for yourself through the window of the Arashio Stable training centre.
Another intriguing aspect of Japanese culture is the so-called ‘geeky’ love for anime, manga and kaiju (Japanese monster movies). Indulge in these local passions by searching out the giant Godzilla peering over the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku or taking a walk through the eye-opening Akihabara district. Here, the streets are lined with comic-book style shops, Japanese slot machines (pachinko), cosplay cafés and the neon signs for which Tokyo has become famous.
Cross The Street
In any other city, crossing the road would be seen as an everyday activity that nobody should get excited about. However, when you’re talking about Tokyo’s Shibuya intersection, it really is an event worth seeking out. Famous for its appearance in many movies, the city’s version of Piccadilly Circus sees hundreds of people cross every few minutes in a display of organised chaos that fittingly sums up Japanese society.
Whether you watch from the side-lines or brave it and put yourself in the middle of the crowds, the Time Square-esque billboards and flashing lights are an interesting assault on the senses.
Bonus: A Hanami Picnic In The Park
If you are sailing off on your Far Eastern cruise at this time of year, you will have the chance to take part in another Japanese trend. It is not just the tourists who love to enjoy the spectacular cherry blossoms during the spring, locals also take to Tokyo’s parks for picnics and Hanami parties. Hanami is the name given to the activity of viewing the sakura trees in full bloom and there are many places where you can join in. Grab a blanket and some food and head to Yoyogi-kōen or Shinjuku Gyoen to admire the pastel pink shades.
If you would like to learn more about our Japan cruises and the things to do in Tokyo, you can talk to our team today. Alternatively, you can click here to submit an enquiry online.